Sunday, April 02, 2006

Enjoy Coke

I read something in a J.G. Ballard review of a book on Coca-Cola, that the most recognized English word in the world was "okay," and second was "Coke." This is due to the century long marketing campaign of the Coca-Cola Corporation, which dwarfs the propaganda efforts of any of the dictatorships and authoritarian rule of any nation in human history. Coke’s triumph is all the more impressive when you consider it is just carbonated sugar water. Yet when you say the name Coke I think of a painting of jolly Santa Claus enjoying a Coke. I think of a Coke fountain glass I got as a child, filled with chocolates. I think of the Coca-Cola logo, and Enjoy Coke, and Coke the Real Thing. I think of the unique shape of their old greenish glass bottles, which incidentally, was shaped like a coca pod. (The pod is the source of cocaine, and is a nod to the time when Coke actually contained the now illegal drug.) Just the name elicits the memory of a thousand people standing in a field, trying to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
Coke is not merely a product, but a word intimately tied to human existence. I mentioned authoritarian rule earlier. Consider the propaganda of the Soviets in the thirties: the new socialist art. It consisted of images of proletarian strength. Grim ironworkers brandish hammers. Titanic farmers stand boldly over the land, casting enormous shadows, appearing to stand 600 feet tall.
What competition can that be for St. Nick laughing with big red cheeks and inviting us to enjoy Coke? I’ll take the fat man in the PR war. If Stalin had really wanted to control the masses, he would have papered the Russian nation with images of himself enjoying a big glass of coke with Santa. Enjoy Coke for a Strong Russia.
So there you have it. Coca-Cola was here before the revolution of 1917, and it’s here after the fall of the Berlin Wall. See? Politics isn’t complicated.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home